Kevin Durant has had an occasionally testy relationship with the media, not to mention with the likes of Russell Westbrook, C.J. McCollum and random fans on the Internet, for some time now. However, he took things to another level recently, claiming that “pure hate” by media members is the reason he has not won any regular season individual awards of late.
Durant was appearing on Bay Area sports-radio station 95.7 The Game when he was asked whether he’d had a goal last season of being named the league’s defensive player of the year. He replied, “You know they’re not gonna give me anything. Even if it’s on the fence, I have to be clear-cut better than everybody, for me to even get a look.”
Asked why he thought that was the case, Durant said, “It’s just pure hate for me, obviously, and no appreciation for my real skill for the game."
“But I get it. I understand where we’re coming from,” he continued. “I understand what we have here in this building that scares everybody.”
The firepower possessed by the Warriors, who have won the past two NBA titles — with Durant earning Finals MVP honors both times — and three of the past four, all before adding all-star center DeMarcus Cousins this year, certainly should put a scare into other NBA teams. It’s less clear, however, why Durant thinks that the 100 basketball journalists who vote on the league’s official awards would be so terrified that they might be inclined to hold it against him.
This is hardly the first time, though, that Durant has criticized the media as being unfair to him. At a Team USA camp in July, he told reporters (via USA Today), “I know y’all trying to make me look crazy and discredit me and strip me of my credibility. But I see what [you’re] doing. But I’m going to still keep standing.”
Those comments came in the wake of a contentious exchange Durant had on Twitter with McCollum, the Trail Blazers standout and fellow Team USA player, as well as jabs the Warrior threw over Instagram at a 17-year-old NBA fan who declared him a cut below LeBron James and Golden State teammate Stephen Curry.
“I know you think I’m sensitive, but I’m just somebody actually tired of holding [expletive] in,” Durant said at the time. “If I got something to say, if I am getting mad because I say something and then you catch feelings, I call you out on it and I’m the sensitive one?”
In his comments this week to the radio station, Durant expressed pride in how he “grew so much on the defensive side of the ball last year,” saying, “I feel like my whole game is unlocked now.” He set a career high in blocks per game, played tough on-ball defense against a variety of positions and was being touted by midseason as a leading contender for defensive player of the year.
However, some of Durant’s numbers dropped in the second half of the season and he finished ninth in the voting, well behind the winner, Rudy Gobert of the Jazz, and even behind teammate Draymond Green, who won the honor in 2017. To Durant, playing with Green, as well as with Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala in Golden State, has had much to do with his own contributions being overlooked.
“Accolades, that stuff is kind of long gone for me, unless it’s like the Finals or something like that, where it’s probably pretty even,” he told the station. “But regular season awards, I mean, I’m never gonna get a look when it comes to that, especially playing here for the Warriors.”
ESPN offered some support for Durant’s viewpoint, tweeting Thursday that since Durant joined the Warriors in 2016, he “has held opponents to 38% shooting,” whereas no other player “has been better during that span among the 50 players that have had at least 1,500 field goals attempted against them.”
Other metrics, though, tell a bit of a different tale, at least regarding his effectiveness last season. For example, the Warriors' defensive rating (via NBA.com), which measures points allowed per 100 possessions, was significantly better with him off the court (100.4) than on it (106.8).
Nevertheless, Durant’s work was considered strong enough to garner two second-place votes and a third-place nod in the defensive player of the year voting, announced in June. On the other hand, he failed to make either of the all-defensive teams, which may have bolstered a mentality to which he gave voice back in 2015, when he was still a member of the Thunder and just a year removed from being voted the NBA’s MVP.
“I think [the] media gets too much power to vote on stuff like that,” he said at the time. “Quite frankly, I don’t think you really know a lot about as much we know about it. … You guys aren’t in the scouting reports, you’re not in the team meetings and the film sessions to really break down each player’s games.”
In a precursor of comments to come, Durant told reporters then, “Y’all not my friends. You’re going to write what you want to write. You’re going to love us one day and hate us the next. That’s a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y’all.”
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